The Meatball and Wine Bar


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The Meatball and Wine Bar

Melbourne, VIC

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Photography by Holly Hawkins

Full of balls.

Matteo Bruno, owner of the three delicious Meatball and Wine Co. venues around Melbourne, doesn’t seem to think that it’s possible to overuse the word “balls” and it’s associated hilarious innuendo. His menu is full of “balls” jokes and he has founded his meaty empire on beef, veal, pork or chicken spheres.

Meatballs, it turns out, are a versatile and cheeky way to theme what is essentially a good old Italian restaurant. The Meatball and Wine Bar occupies a neatly tucked away building along Flinders Lane, with cute awnings on the windows, ample outdoor seating and re-vamped modern interiors. Each surface is a different texture, from the painted white bricks, to the silver-clouded mirror wall.

The friendly staff across all three venues are an enthusiastic fount of wine-and-balls knowledge. Not only do they know the venue’s wine list – almost exclusively Italian except for two organic Australian wines – back-to-front, but they make a mean Balls Tonic too (the venue’s signature cocktail, consisting of Melbourne Gin Company Gin, Fiorente Elderflower Liqueur, cucumber, lemon, and apple).

Other notable options are the Witch’s Potion – passionfruit, dark and light rum, lime juice, Liquore Strega Italiano and Mandorla served in a orange-sugar rimmed martini glass – and the Mr. Rhubarb, another gin concoction that blends Aperol, gin, lime juice and rhubarb compote over crushed ice.

These cocktails are best drunk at the beginning of your night, alongside the charcuterie board – the perfect starter because of its grazing selection of salami, prosciutto, fior di latte and honey drizzled parmesan, with home-pickled cucumber.

Next, move onto a glass of wine – by the bottle or the glass; the weekly special is always a must-try – and then order some meals to share (staff recommend this, as the extensive menu means its hard to taste everything).

The main event is the “Balls and All” section, where you can choose a meatball type (chicken, pork, beef, or vegetarian), then a sauce (tomato based, white and creamy, or green pesto salsa verde) and, lastly, “something for your balls to sit on” – which could be house-made pasta, potato mash, cannellini beans or creamy polenta.

Aside from the build your own “Balls and All”, there’s pan-fried gnocchi with a giant veal meatball, beef carpaccio, meatball smash, or The Feedlots Menu chef’s selection (“let us feed you our balls”).

Lastly, satisfy your sweet tooth with an ice cream sandwich – The Whoopie Mac. The pistachio meringue shell with salted caramel ice cream inside comes highly recommended.